By BRIAN LESTER
On the brink of potentially going to overtime, the University of Findlay women’s basketball team stepped up on defense when it mattered against Walsh Thursday night.
Karli Beasley blocked a desperation 3-point shot up top by Kelsey Funderburgh as the final seconds ticked off the clock and then hit two free throws on the other end to seal the deal on a 56-51 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win over the Cavaliers at Croy Gymnasium.
The Oilers have struggled defensively, but against the Cavs, they played well, holding WU to 30 percent (18 of 60) from the field and forced 26 turnovers en route to the victory.
“It’s the first time all year where our defense saved us,” UF head coach Jim Wiedie said.
Defending that final play with UF clinging to a 54-51 lead wasn’t easy. But the Oilers didn’t allow the Cavs to get a good look at the basket in a pressure-packed moment.
“In that situation, you just have to guard your man,” Wiedie said. “There couldn’t be any blitzing or trapping. We had to play straight up and make them take a tough shot. We executed perfectly and Beasley had a big block at the end.”
UF (9-8, 6-7 GLIAC) also made its share of plays down the stretch on offense behind the effort of Margaret Wuebker and Ciara Geiger.
Wuebker extended the UF lead to 47-41 with 5:27 to play and then battled for a steal on the other end. She came up with the ball on the floor and threw it down to Geiger, who sliced into the lane and scored on a layup for a 49-41 advantage.
The Cavs (6-12, 2-10) fought back and pulled within three at 51-48 before Geiger got into the lane, scored on a layup and drew a foul. Her free throw stretched the UF lead to 54-48 before the Cavs answered one more time on a 3-pointer by Sarah Stephenson.
Geiger finished with 16 points and Wuebker netted 12 points to pace the Oilers, who shot 36.7 percent (18 of 49) from the field as they won back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 7.
“Ciara is getting more comfortable in the offense,” Wiedie said. “She is a scorer and got to the rim a couple of times. Margaret continues to be a beast. We rely on her so much. I was a little worried about the fouls , but Kelsey Lewis did a fantastic job of spelling her until she got back in.”
The Oilers did still struggle from beyond the arc, connecting on only five of their 22 attempts. Karli Bonar paved the way with three treys to help stake UF to a 27-17 lead at half.
But Bonar was 3 of 10 overall from 3-point range and Wiedie said it’s tough to put a finger on the reason behind the Oilers’ outside shooting struggles as a team.
“I’m not sure what it is with us. We still can’t hit those open threes,” Wiedie said.
“I’ve never coached a team with as good of shooters as we have and we are all off at the same time.”
Whitney Dabbelt led the Cavs with 14 points and Jalynn Graham finished with 13 points but couldn’t prevent WU from falling for the eighth time in nine games.
As for the Oilers, it’s on to a game with South Division leader Malone (13-6, 8-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Canton.
“They have a lot of talent, especially the starting five, but I think our kids will be pumped to play this game. It’s a chance to play the first-place team in the South. We have to be ready to go,” Wiede said.
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